An ideal workplace, Utopian as some might argue, is not built overnight. It is created over many years through a combination of continuous improvements, radical innovation & careful branding. An ideal workplace is the outcome of key people promises being fulfilled – an interesting job, a manager who supports, an opportunity to get on and to be treated with trust and respect. In an ideal workplace employees are engaged, proud & less likely to leave.
It starts with the mix of people:
The workplace is the collective of the people we hire. It has a life & has its own DNA. An organization is like a well maintained garden, where the right seeds are sown, plants are nurtured, variety is encouraged and weeds are removed. Similarly, to create an ideal workplace, we pick talented people with matching values, develop them, foster diversity & manage out people who do not pull their weight.
In an ideal workplace, people know what is in & what is out:
Companies that have got close to creating an ideal workplace have repeatedly drummed into their people what is in & what is out. In such companies, people march to the same beat, while retaining their fierce individuality. Everyone, regardless of their job, their position or country follows the core values of the company.
Driving Values and behavior cannot be left to chance. Companies need to articulate these values and orchestrate their dissemination. It is important to keep them simple and universal.
Some of the values are brought to life best through examples. Seniors in the company need to constantly talk about what they will support and what they have zero tolerance for. Of course, they need to walk the talk. When people see their leaders keeping the customer at the heart of all their decisions, promoting meritocracy and coming down heavily on unethical behavior, organization folklore gets created. This clarity i.e. knowing the rules of the game, gives people comfort. People who do not belong will move on leaving behind a team that is aligned.
In an ideal workplace, people know where they stand – on performance, pay & career:
More than ever before, we are seeing people demand transparency. They wish to know where they stand. They want honest feedback, not a sales pitch or a spin.
Regular employee satisfaction surveys are a great way to facilitate employee feedback. The feedback act as an important tool for giving the management a sense what people feel about working with the company and helps put developmental programs in place. Some of the concerns faced by employees could be around - wanting better appraisal feedback, clarity on their careers and equity in pay. This does not mean that the answer is to give everyone a better rating, promotion or a whopping increment. To my mind, it is about greater objectivity in performance ratings, candid career discussions, frameworks that show how to develop a career and a brilliant communication of pay and benefits.
Through radical transparency and innovative people practices, it is possible to create and foster ‘a great place to work’.
People wish to work for companies that are successful, clean & legal:
Good companies attract good talent. Equally, good people, wish to associate themselves with companies that are financially strong, with a clean image and a conscience.
Today’s workplaces and more so in the future, have a majority of staff from Generation Y (born between 1979 and 1994). These are people who have seen how corporate icons tumbled before their eyes putting careers of bright people at serious risk. They have been brought up on a diet of environmental activism and want to be associated with companies that support clean energy and do something for the community. Companies would do well therefore to be conscious of these changing expectations of the modern workforce.
Finally, an ideal workplace needs active marketing:
After assembling the right ingredients of an ideal workplace, companies need to actively market these employee value propositions. Everyone, starting from the leadership of the company has a responsibility to bring this proposition alive. This means simple messages delivered in a compelling way. The marketing should not get ahead of the work, but make the messages memorable.
Today’s workforce and the prospective candidates take in these messages through social networks, blogs & interactive media.
An ideal workplace drives many benefits to the business and the people. An ideal worth chasing!